17 de septiembre del 2000
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Cambio Climático
Proyecto de soporte a negociación ambiental

Cambio Climático

  Inter Press Service
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sobre temas globales de seguridad humana
Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo
Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente

Interview with Omar El Harini, chair of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol.

"In 50 years the deterioration of the ozone layer will begin to heal "
Editor's Desk/Tierramérica

The ozone layer, which protects us from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, continues to deteriorate at a dramatic pace. So much so that scientists around the world are sounding the alarm about the rapid expansion of the hole in the ozone over the Antarctic and the formation of a new hole over the North Pole.

In 1987 the world took an historic step by signing the Montreal Protocol to control the production and consumption of chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halons and carbon tetrachloride. The progress made was enough that by 1996 the industrialized world had eradicated the production of CFCs.

But there is still much left to be done in order to reverse the damage already done to the earth's atmosphere. While many nations, especially developing countries, are still struggling to implement the Protocol, some regions, such as Europe, propose to accelerate the timetables for eliminating certain chemicals, as well as banning new substances like bromochloroethane.

In a crucial chapter of the discussion and coinciding with International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, September 16, Omar El Harini, chair of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, answered some of Tierramérica's questions.

The Egyptian-born scientist points out that the depletion of the ozone layer will begin a turnaround in the middle of this century, and that the fundamental decisions are in the hands of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, that are to meet in December at a crucial conference in Burkina Faso.

TIERRAMERICA: There is scientific evidence that an Arctic ozone hole might be forming and that the Arctic ozone losses may be larger than expected, thus complicating the recovery of the ozone layer globally.

Do you think humankind will be able to achieve the goal of the recovery of the ozone layer?

EL HARINI: Monitoring of the state of the stratospheric ozone layer involves several scientific and technical undertakings. Among these is measuring the extent of chlorine (and bromine) loading, which is responsible for the chemical destruction of ozone in the upper stratosphere. The result of such measurements indicate that the growth in the concentration of chlorine and bromine has been arrested due to the phase out of the consumption and production of chlorofluorocarbons and bromofluorocarbons by the vast majority of industrialized countries, as well as the ongoing programme of the Multilateral Fund in some 121 developing countries.

The ozone scientists have informed that the depletion of the ozone layer, which causes the ozone holes, will begin to heal towards the middle of the new century. The only way to sustain the stabilization of the damage to the ozone layer before it begins to heal is to be vigilant in our resolve in the implementation of the Montreal Protocol and of its amendments by all Parties.

The progress made under the Montreal Protocol to control the ozone destroying chemicals has been very important during the last decade, but, is it enough?
Is it necessary to list new ozone depleting substances, to tighten existing phase out schedules or add new controls under the Protocol?

-There is never enough of a good thing! The success of the Montreal Protocol has indeed resulted in arresting, over a short period of time, the cause of the damage to the ozone layer. This short period has been characterized by controlling more ozone depleting substances and by tightening the control measures.

The European Commission has proposed bans for virtually all remaining HCFC uses by 2015, and controls of the CFC production under the Protocol.
Considering the original deadlines (2030 for developed countries and 2040 for developing nations) is it possible?

-This issue will be discussed at the next meeting of the Parties in Burkina Faso. Developing countries have just begun to use transitional chemicals in their industries. Some substitutes came into the market that could have been used instead of HCFCs had they been introduced earlier. Some developing countries still opt for HCFCs use inspite of the presumption of the Executive Committee against these substances.

This is driven more by prevailing circumstances in a country or in an industrial sector. I do not see why HCFCs could not be replaced after a reasonable period of time perhaps even by 2015 - due to the future introduction of other chemicals or technologies that could be used instead of HCFCs without upsetting the production facility and without unnecessary capital abandonment.

Should the bromochloroethene be controlled under the Protocol?

-The Montreal Protocol in its Technology and Assessment Panel and its Technical Option Committees has an excellent scientific facility to give an advice of that nature to the Parties to the Protocol.

June 30, 2000 was the deadline for the developing countries to freeze CFC emissions at average 1995-1997 levels.
Have they done it? Are there any exceptions?

-In a recent analysis undertaken by the Fund Secretariat, we reported to the 31st Meeting of the Executive Committee (July 2000) and to the 24th Meeting of the Implementation Committee (July 2000), that based on the available information, most of the Article 5 countries that reported data to the Fund and Ozone Secretariats will be able to be in compliance with the 1999/2000 freeze in the consumption and production of Group I, Annex A substances.

We will be sure only in 2001, when the 2000 data will have been reported to the Ozone Secretariat under Article 7 of the Protocol, whether all Article 5 countries came in compliance. The exception are those countries that have received massive assistance from the Multilateral Fund but their projects are slow in implementation and their imports of CFCs have not been restricted.

Other countries that did not receive but little assistance from the Fund have been slow in taking administrative measures to limit the consumption of CFCs. Both groups of countries have been slated for inclusion in the 2001 business plan of the Multilateral Fund which will be considered at the next meeting of the Executive Committee in Burkina Faso.

The developing world must now work to achieve a 50 percent out of the CFC emissions by 2005 and a complete phase out by 2010.

Do you think developing nations have the technological and financial capacity they need to achieve this goal?

-With the existing cooperation between the developing and developed countries within the framework of the Multilateral Fund, and if this cooperation continues I am hopeful that developing countries will be able to meet their obligations under the Montreal Protocol.

The Multilateral Fund approved new funding for the development of US $40.5 million for 135 projects and activities in 31 countries. Is this enough to achieve the goals?

-These approvals constitute approximately one fourth of what the Executive Committee planned to commit during 2000.

What should the international community expect from the meeting of the Parties which will be held in Burkina Faso in December?

-Decisions that can be implemented by all Parties for the protection of the ozone layer.

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